Activists demand Native American remains be relinquished at Harvard conference

At a recent Harvard University conference, several speakers demanded that the remains of formerly enslaved Native Americans be let go by the university.

Tara Houska, an environmentalist and Native American activist previously covered by Campus Reform, said, 'No one else is going to do it for us.'

A recent conference at Harvard University featured several speakers demanding that the institution return the human remains of thousands of Native Americans kept in its museum collections. 

The conference, hosted by the Harvard University Native American Program and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, was entitled “Responsibility and Repair: Legacies of Indigenous Enslavement, Indenture, and Colonization at Harvard and Beyond” and began on Nov. 3. 

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According to reporting by The Harvard Crimson, the university has been in the process of returning remains since 1990. However, the process of returning them has been slow. 

One speaker named Dallas Goldtooth, who is an actor, comedian, and part of the Mdewakanton Dakota and Diné tribes, condemned Harvard for failing to promptly return all of the remains. 

The Crimson reports that Goldtooth said “How f****d up is Harvard’s past?,” and “On a scale of one to 10, I’d say 9.5.”

Goldtooth also reportedly said that, “The audacity to do a report, name a whole conference ‘Legacies of Indigenous Enslavement,’ and y’all still got bodies in the building, still got remains up in your hands — you guys are saucy.”

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Another speaker named Tara Houska, an environmentalist and Native American activist, claimed that “The land acknowledgment is one thing, the action is another.” 

She also reportedly said, “I do not operate in just words. I take action. We have to carry our prayers and our thoughts into action. No one else is going to do it for us.”

Campus Reform previously covered a $100K prize and two-week residency that Houska received from Dickinson College for her “active role in the movement to defund fossil fuels.”

Campus Reform reached out to Harvard University for comment. This article will be updated accordingly. 

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